I voted for you this week. On your 15th birthday. I cast ballots for two countries, one in our adopted home, New Zealand, the other in your birthplace, America. I want you to have a future wherever you choose to live.
I voted for candidates who've demonstrated they're smart, strategic and sane.
Never underestimate the importance of mental health. Or humility. With your teenaged boy swagger, you can't realise it today, but humility is a crucial element of character.
Without it, we're reckless and arrogant. Quick to anger. Quick to judge. Quick to pull the trigger. Bravado works in the boxing ring. It's not a sought-after trait in most other realms. Shallow people hide insecurities beneath a blanket of false bravado.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words."
I voted for people whose deeds include kaitiakitanga - guardianship and protection - of the planet. Your generation has more at stake in this issue than mine. I'll likely be ash by the time the seas, cyclones and fires make the planet even more hostile than it is today. I'm sorry we've left you this mess.
I hope the politicians I've backed and the actions we take together can help stop our planet's destruction.
I voted for people who respect women. I'm thrilled New Zealand's next prime minister will be a woman, because the frontrunners in our election are women.
The past three years, you've heard a female voice speaking on radio and TV as the country's leader.
It's almost a non-issue here, something we don't need to mention. But your homeland has never elected a female president. It seems arcane, yet here we are. Your sister can be a leader. So can you. Your sister can take time off to care for a child. So can you.
I voted for people who treat everyone with dignity. They don't mock their opponents. They don't make fun of people who are different from them.
They don't discriminate due to race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, weight, or any of the things that make some of us stand out.
Science tells us our DNA is 99.9 per cent the same regardless of skin colour or where we're from.
I voted for people who understand we don't all grow up in privileged homes. Some men and women who struggle today were abused and neglected as children.
Unlike you, having 24/7 access to food, some kids wake up hungry and go to bed hungry.
They don't have clean clothes to wear, or a parent who wants the job.
Competent leaders understand the randomness of life, that whether we're born in the Calcutta slums or inside a gated community in Beverly Hills is a matter of chance.
We don't choose our parents. We don't choose whether they're boozers, chain-smoke cigarettes or get high on meth. As grownups, we can choose another path. We can also choose compassion for those less fortunate than us.
Put yourself in someone else's shoes before judging them. Consider empathy when you're old enough to vote.
I voted for people who back science. I can't believe this is an issue in 2020, but the internet - a platform that allows researchers to work with others across the globe - also provides a stage to sow seeds of disinformation.
Anecdotes are interesting, but quality data can change the world. Invest time in science, not conspiracy theories. Learn to distinguish between the two.
It's not always evident. A slick video can fool even a smart person.
I voted for people who show a willingness to keep learning. You may not appreciate this in Year 10, but learning is for life.
You and the people you vote for (maybe you'll run for office one day) must read and integrate new information. It's true the only constant is change.
Have courage to change what you're doing if new knowledge says it's necessary. Blindly following old habits can lead us to repeat past wrongs.
Tradition, they say, is democracy of the dead. Your ancestors aren't in charge. Some day soon, you and your peers will be in charge.
I voted for people who safeguard public health.
The Covid pandemic has shown us the importance of a strong health system where everyone has access to medical care.
I want you to live in a country where you don't have to choose between paying for the doctor and buying food.
I voted for people who want to recharge the economy. I add this last because we often put money first.
We want a fair system where we get to keep as much of our cash as possible while still enjoying the perks of community.
You're lucky to live in a country where, even in 2020, we're free to do business face-to-face. I hope wherever you call home you can find meaningful work that brings you joy
and decent pay.
There's no policy platform for this one, but I hope you always remember to call your mum.
Happy birthday, Master 15. I voted for you.